INDIANAPOLIS – Alright, it’s time to play games that are going to count again.
The Pacers wrapped up their third, and final, Orlando scrimmage on Tuesday evening—a 118-111 loss to the Spurs.
For the first time in the scrimmages, Nate McMillan played his (new) starting lineup into the fourth quarter.
That meant the grouping of Malcolm Brogdon, Aaron Holiday, Victor Oladipo, T.J. Warren and Myles Turner played more than 20 minutes together. Justin Holiday played instead of his younger brother in the 4th quarter with the starters. Domantas Sabonis remains out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis.
Oladipo finished his scrimmage run struggling with his jump shot, coming up short on numerous attempts on Tuesday. He was 4-of-16 from the field for 10 points against the Spurs.
McMillan said before Tuesday’s scrimmage finale that him Oladipo will meet in the coming days and discuss whether or not the star guard will play in the regular season/postseason portion of the Orlando re-start.
Physically, Oladipo looked pretty good health wise in the three scrimmages. He was 13-of-38 (34%) from the field (7-of-19, 36%, behind the arc) in the three scrimmages. Oladipo struggled inside the arc though, going just 6-of-19 (31%) with only 2 foul shots attempted in 76 minutes of action.
Myles Turner led the starters with 17 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday.
T.J. McConnell was his usual sparkplug self off the bench against the Spurs, scoring 14 points and handing out 11 assists.
The Pacers will have their regular season re-start opener on Saturday, August 1st (vs. 76ers). That will be the first of games the Pacers will play to finish the 2019-20 regular season, before entering the postseason.
Three Things Learned
-More Decisive Myles Turner: After sitting out the first scrimmage with a minor calf injury, Myles Turner has shown a decisive element to his game that many have wondered if was there. Turner had 15 points and 8 rebounds on Sunday, and 17 and 10 on Tuesday, while playing 20 and 24 minutes in those games. This offensive production from Turner is not him raining threes either (he’s made just 1). It’s been decisive moves out of the post and even off the dribble. Now, the opposing defense hasn’t been Rudy Gobert-esque, but still it should be noted what Turner has shown in these scrimmages. Nate McMillan mentioned that he’s noticed a ‘more mature’ Turner since the re-start. It goes without saying how much more will be counted on from Turner in this re-start, especially with the uncertainty around Domantas Sabonis (foot). With this new starting lineup, Turner is probably looking at more of a Sabonis’ type role in the half-court offense—less threes and more action inside the arc.
-Typical T.J. McConnell: The Pacers ‘best’ (most consistent/productive) player in these scrimmages has been T.J. McConnell. He’s doing everything—hustling, distributing, shocking his defenders with random shots inside the arc—we saw in the first 65 games of the season. McConnell continues to be the engine for the second unit, leading a group that flipped the first two scrimmages. You know McConnell is looking forward to Saturday’s regular season re-start opener. It was the 76ers that decided it was time for McConnell to get a fresh start somewhere else last offseason. The Pacers have been the major beneficiary of that. For the Pacers to do some damage with real games starting now, they need for McConnell and the bench to continue to be an ‘advantage Indiana’ part of the game.
-New (Smaller) Starting Lineup: It’s funny, this was the year the Pacers were supposed to be the contrarian in the NBA. They had the two former lottery pick big men emerging into their second contracts ready to both be in the starting lineup. The success was there with both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis playing together, but the Pacers were still a more efficient team with just one big on the floor. Well, for the next couple of weeks (at least) they are being forced to play with just one big, with Turner taking on the brunt of those big man responsibilities. Aaron Holiday, who is still up to his typical no fear/unpredictable self, in the starting lineup means the Pacers are getting 10 inches shorter in the starting lineup. The pros: more shooting, more dribble penetration and some interchangeable ball handlers. The cons: lose your best low post scorer, your most consistent rebounder and a great ball mover. Now, the Pacers will be like virtually every other NBA team in playing a bit more ‘small ball.’ Will it lead to them having more offensive success?
Pacers Regular Season Re-Start Schedule
-76ers, 8/1 (Saturday), 7:00 PM
-Wizards, 8/3 (Monday), 4:00 PM
-Magic, 8/4 (Tuesday), 6:00 PM
-Suns, 8/6 (Thursday), 4:00 PM
-Lakers, 8/8 (Saturday), 6:00 PM
-Heat, 8/10 (Monday), 8:00 PM
-Rockets, 8/12 (Wednesday), 4:00 PM
-Heat, 8/14 (Friday), TBD
Current Eastern Conference Standings
1. Milwaukee (53-12)
2. Toronto (46-18), 6.5 games back
3. Boston (43-21), 9.5 games back
4. Miami (41-24), 12 games back
5. Indiana (39-26), 14 games back
6. Philadelphia (39-26), 14 games back
7. Brooklyn (30-34), 22.5 games back
8. Orlando (30-35), 23 games back
9. Wizards (24-40), 28.5 games back